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Healthy Cooking Tips, Techniques and Substitutions

Starting a Healthier Diet

Following a healthy diet often seems like an insurmountable task. It doesn't have to be such a huge challenge; all it takes is just a few small changes to make a big difference in your daily diet. Here are a few ingredient substitutions you can make and healthy cooking techniques to help you make the most of those fantastic ingredients.

Substitutes in Cooking: Clever Ingredient Swaps

Knowing which ingredients to choose when trying to follow a healthy eating plan can be a big help. Here are a few ideas for healthy cooking substitutions you can make:
  • Dial back your saturated fat intake by selecting leaner proteins when you make your own meatloaf, meatballs, burger patties, chili, or lasagna. Focus on meat products that are 90 - 99 % protein.

  • Another tip for cutting calories and cholesterol is to use egg whites instead of whole eggs. Use two egg whites for every egg called for in a recipe.

  • Reduce saturated fat and calories in your meal by swapping cream and sour cream for fat-free yogurt or low-fat buttermilk.

  • Ingredients with a higher fiber content are good for gastrointestinal health and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Swap out white rice for high-fiber brown rice. Brown rice contains more nutrients and fiber than white rice.

  • More fiber will leave you feeling fuller for longer. Substitute white pasta with multi-grain or whole-wheat pasta.

  • The same goes for bread and wraps. Choose baked goods made with whole grain flour and seeds to diversify your nutrient intake and include more fiber in your diet.

  • Enjoy the flavor and texture of dairy without over-indulging in saturated fat and calories. Skip the full-fat cheese and choose from the many flavorful low-fat cheeses instead.

  • Add flavor to your meals without all the salt. Use fresh herbs and spices instead of ready-made, salt-based herb mixes. Dried spices and herbs are also suitable low-sodium substitutes.

Healthy Cooking: Carb Clever Substitutes in Cooking

Whether you are following a Keto diet or just want to cut down on your carb consumption, there are some easy cooking substitutions that you can make. For example, use vegetables instead of carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta and rice, such as in these low carb cooking substitutes:
1. Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower rice is a versatile rice substitute that can pair well with many different dishes. Try it out with seafood curry, chicken pot pie, or roasted beef. To make cauli-rice, simply process the cauliflower florets into rice-size pieces. Steam the cauliflower in water until soft. Drain any excess water. Season with a pinch of salt. If you're enjoying your cauli-rice with a curry, give the cauli-rice a flavor boost by steaming it in coconut milk instead of water.

2. Zoodles
A clever substitute for linguini or tagliatelle is to use zucchini ribbons instead of wheat-based pasta. You can buy zucchini noodles (AKA zoodles) at your local grocer or make your own. There are two super easy methods for making your own zoodles and both only take a few minutes. You can 'peel' your zucchini into thin strips using a vegetable peeler or julienne peeler. Or use a spiralizer to turn your zucchini into fabulous vegetable spaghetti! You can enjoy your zoodles raw or cook your zucchini spaghetti in a couple of ways:

  • Add your zoodles to boiling water and cook for one minute.
  • Sauté with a little splash of avocado oil or olive oil for a few minutes until 'al dent'.
  • Place the spiralized zucchini in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave for one minute.
  • Place your zoodles on a baking sheet lined with a paper towel. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°F (90°C) for 10-15 minutes.

Cooking Healthy: Switch to Healthier Fats

Fats and oils are an essential part of a healthy diet. It's just a matter of choosing the right ones and finding a beneficial balance. Making the switch to healthier fats is easy. Here are a few guidelines to help you figure out low-fat cooking substitutions:
  • Opt for lean meats and reduced-fat dairy products.

  • To reduce your consumption of hidden fats, keep processed foods to a minimum.

  • Get your good fats from ingredients such as nuts, seeds, olives, soy, fish, and avocados. These foods contain the long-chain fatty acids vital for good cardiovascular health.

  • Substitute evaporated skim milk, reduced-fat milk, or yogurt instead of cream when making sauces. You can use a spoon or two of cornstarch to thicken your sauce.

  • To add depth and flavor to your dishes, swap butter, creamy sauces, and sour cream for pesto, chutney, hummus, or salsa.

  • Choose olive oil, canola oil, or avocado oil for frying.

  • Reduce the amount of oil you use when cooking by using spray oils to lightly coat your pans.

  • Where you can, cook with liquids like water, stock, wine, lemon juice, or vinegar rather than oil.

  • Reduce the amount of fat that your veggies absorb by placing them in a hot pan and only then spraying a little bit of oil in the pan.

  • Want that crispy veg vibe without the oil? Cook your vegetables in the microwave before placing them under the grill in the oven for a minute or two to crisp up.

Healthy Cooking Tips for Baking

We often think of baked goods as an indulgence and immediately banish them to the do-not-eat list when we start dieting or watching our calorie intake. This doesn’t have to be the case! With a few clever substitutions, you can bake treats that are delicious and healthy.
  • Use apple sauce as a sweetener instead of cane sugar.
  • You can also use apple sauce as an oil substitute in your baked products. Swap out half the oil in your cake or brownie recipe for the same volume of apple sauce.
  • Mashed banana or crushed pineapple also works well to sweeten baked goods.
  • Flaxseed powder makes for a great egg substitute. For each egg in your recipe, dissolve one tablespoon of flaxseed powder in three tablespoons of water.
  • Bake with vegetable oils like sunflower oil or canola oil instead of butter. They are equal substitutes, so for every 50 ml of butter needed, you can use 50 ml of oil.
  • For an extra boost of fiber, use wholegrain flour instead of white flour where you can. Wholegrain flours might not be suitable for all cakes, but they work well for muffins, bread, and pancakes.
  • To reduce calories and saturated fat intake, choose low-fat milk or nut milk instead of cream for your baking recipes.

Retaining Nutrients: Tips for Healthy Cooking

Some vitamins (vitamin C and the B-vitamins) and minerals are water-soluble. When you cook these foods in water, you lose some of their valuable nutrients. Likewise, the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) may deteriorate by cooking with too much oil. Try these tips for retaining the goodness in your grub:
  • Use non-stick cookware so that you can use less cooking fat or liquids when preparing your meal.

  • Cooking your vegetables in a steamer or microwave results in less nutrient loss than boiling in water.

  • When you boil vegetables in water, try to use as little water as is necessary.

  • Include more stir-fries in your meal plan. To retain their crunch, stir-fried veggies are cooked quickly, minimizing nutrient loss.

Healthy Cooking Tips and Techniques

The wrong cooking techniques can turn healthful, organic produce into flavored fiber. To get the most from your carefully selected ingredients, use gentle cooking methods that help to retain most of the nutrients and goodness. Try these healthy cooking techniques to make the most of your ingredients:


Baking your meat and/or veggies does not require extra fat or moisture. This cooking healthy method helps to retain nutrients.


The braising method begins with browning your food with a small amount of cooking oil on the stovetop. Then you add a small amount of cooking liquid (water, stock, wine) and simmer on low heat. Cooking at low heat helps to limit the destruction of valuable vitamins.


The advantage of broiling food is that this method doesn't require the use of liquids or oils which may reduce nutrient content. Broiling on a lower setting can help to limit nutrient loss.


Poaching is a clever method for packing loads of flavor into your food without using fats and processed sugars. Cook food at a gentle simmer in a liquid such as a tasty broth, fresh juice, beer, or wine. When you choose leaner cuts of meat, they can often dry out with some cooking methods. The advantage of poaching these cuts is that they don't dry out.


This is another dry heat option that emphasizes slow cooking at a lower temperature. You can roast meat or vegetables with a small amount of fat or liquid to prevent them from drying out. A cooking healthy tip: Use less liquid by keeping your food closed for the first portion of the roasting time. To get crispy skin on your chicken or potatoes, only open up just before the end.

Healthy Cooking Starts with Choosing the Right Ingredients
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Healthy Cooking Starts with Choosing the Right Ingredients

If you have the right ingredients in your fridge and pantry, it will be so much easier to cook nutritious food. Combine these ingredients with healthy cooking tips and techniques, and you will be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle. Consider using Green Chef to have seasonal, unique organic produce and sustainable ingredients delivered to your doorstep in easy meal kits.
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Green Chef is all about eating and living green. We are a USDA certified organic company. We work with farmers to source sustainable, delicious ingredients
Green Chef is all about eating and living green. We are a USDA certified organic company. We work with farmers to source sustainable, delicious ingredients